Andrew Dipper

Carl Hutchinson Q&A

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Carl Hutchinson is a stand-up comedian from Jarrow who’s currently supporting Chris Ramsey on his theatre tour of the UK. Ahead of his own month-long run at the Edinburgh Fringe in August, Carl talks to Giggle Beats about his new show – called Here’s Me Show what he gets up to on tour with Ramsey, why he’s left the Manchester comedy scene behind and more.

AD: Hi Carl. Tell us about the new show…

CH: The show is just an hour of stand-up. I know that seems quite old-fashioned now, really, but it’s just going to be stand-up. I done a story [based show] last year but this year I didn’t really have a big arc to go through. I saw no need to invent one and nothing came to me, so it’s just going to be an hour of stand-up routines. It’s called Here’s Me Show!

AD: It was originally going to be called Nothing Rhymes With Hutchinson, wasn’t it?

CH: That was just a working title. Some people thought it was going to be poetry, and it was quite misleading so I thought I best not use that.

A lot of comedians have puns in their show title but I can’t really because nothing rhymes with Hutchinson – hence the original title! But it was a bit too inside and it looked like I was having a knock at people who do that, which I wasn’t.

I was sitting down with [Chris] Ramsey and I said to him, “I just want a show that says, ‘Here’s me show!’” and he just went, ‘Yep, that’s it.’”

AD: How many shows have you taken to Edinburgh?

CH: This’ll be my third solo show. The first I produced and put it on myself – I wasn’t with anyone at the time. Last year was the first time I just had to do my show – Avalon produced it and everything. My first show was all my club material, here’s all the stuff I’ve been doing for years – it’s like a first album, you know.

It’s once you scrap all that and be creative with a year being the finish line – that’s when it gets exciting. One of my favourite comedians, Louis CK, said that’s how he got good – he started writing a new show every year. That’s kind of what I want to do as well. It keeps you creative and stops you from resting on your laurels. A music artist would never do that and I feel the same way about comedians.

AD: Did you visit Edinburgh as a comedy fan before you did stand-up?

CH: No, I never went. The first time I went to Edinburgh for the festival was 2007 – I was a new act and I got to the final of So You Think You’re Funny? It was something stupid like my seventh gig or something. I didn’t appreciate how good it was and I was quite overwhelmed by it. By the time I got there to do the gig I wasn’t really ready for it. I was shite is what I’m saying…

Richard Sandling won it that year and Jack Whitehall didn’t get placed. I wonder where he is now!

AD: You mentioned Chris Ramsey earlier – you’ve been touring with him for a couple of years now…

CH: We had a conversation years ago – something along the lines of, ‘If one of us ever got to the level where we’re touring would you support the other person?’ And yeah, of course. When he did get to that level I took him up on it!

AD: It must quite different as a support act on tour – people don’t come to see you…

CH: Well that’s it – and that means there’s a lot less pressure. I don’t need to worry about ticket sales because I’m getting paid regardless. I don’t have to worry if I have a bad one or I’m trying stuff out because, like you say, they’re not here to see me.

You can only come out good from it. It’s like being a goalkeeper in penalty shootout – you can only come out looking good, and if you don’t that’s fine because no-one was expecting it anyway.

But that doesn’t mean you can be half-arsed. The reason Chris asked me is because when I go out there and have a good one it makes him up his game – he’s not one of these people who wants somebody who’s going to make him look good, he wants the best support he possibly can.

That’s why, when I’ve started doing my shows, I’ve asked John Whale, Lee Kyle and Anth Young because I know they’re really good. They’re good North East talent and I want them to go out there and rip it so I have to do the same thing.

AD: Give us a bit of insight into touring with Chris…

CH: You just have to look at the tour diaries that Chris puts out on his website – that’s it really, like! People think it’s dead glamorous and we’re out all hours of the night but we’re really not. The thing we look forward to the most is getting back to the hotel, having a drink in the hotel bar, finding some sort of food we can eat that isn’t going to sit too heavy and playing FIFA on the Playstation.

Or, if we don’t have that, we’ll get the board games out and play Articulate. Tour life is making sure you get to the venue, find a place to eat, get a wash if you can and do the same the next day.

AD: You’ve moved back to the North East after living in Manchester for a few years – is that a reflection of how your career is changing in terms of playing less club gigs?

CH: I moved back just before Edinburgh last year, so it’s coming up to a year since I’ve been back. For a good time I needed to be down in Manchester – not because there’s a particularly big scene in Manchester anymore but because you’re central and it’s easier to get to other gigs in the country.

Now that I book a lot of gigs in advance I know where I’m going to be this time next year – touch wood – so I don’t really have to be at somebody’s beck and call for last minute gigs and stuff like that. I’m in a better position now than I was four years ago.

I missed my friends and family too much, I really did. The days off got less and less – I was only off a couple of days a week, the difference is now that I can go see my girlfriend, I can go see my mates and my family. I can pop back to my mam and dad’s house for dinner – it’s great.

Four years was enough. It’s not like I’m quitting comedy or anything like that, I’m just prepared to travel a lot more knowing I’ll be back home in Newcastle on my days off.

AD: Seymour Mace, Chris Ramsey and Jason Cook have all done a very similar thing to you and moved back to the North East from Manchester. Seymour’s reasoning was that there isn’t enough variety in the Manchester comedy scene anymore.

CH: Not trying to slag Manchester too much here because I do it a lot, but he’s right. It’s a lot like the music scene there in my opinion – it’s a city living off its reputation from 10/15 years ago now, which is a shame because there’s a lot of great comedians and great promoters. Toby Hadoke still puts on XS Malarkey, which was really good in its day, and Toby is a great advocate of new talent [in Manchester].

The one thing I miss from Manchester is Toby Hadoke’s new material night at The Comedy Store, which is a lot like Red Raw at The Stand. There’s good people, good promoters and good comedians but at the moment it just doesn’t have it and hasn’t had it for a while – it’s a bit of a shame…

AD: With The Stand setting up in Newcastle, comedy fans in the North East are spoilt at the moment. I remember when there was only a couple of gigs at The Chilly and The Hyena…

CH: I came out when the Dog and Parrott was – it had been good for a while, and it was getting good, but it was only good for a short amount of time. But they certainly are spoilt for choice now. The Stand is one of the best venues in the country for my liking.

AD: Going back to Edinburgh for a moment – tell us your favourite and least favourite thing about the festival…

CH: My favourite thing is that there’s loads of comedians about and my least favourite thing is that there’s loads of comedians about!

Favourite thing? It’s all go, all the time – there’s always something going on. You walk to a gig and there’s street entertainment – and I know I have a go at street entertainers in my show, but I love the whole buzz of the festival. There’s always nice food on as well and it’s a nice positive place.

It’s very easy to get bogged down in ticket sales and reviews and things like that but it’s a festival – just go up, have fun and do the best show you can without taking it too seriously.

My least favourite thing would have to be the weather – chances are it will piss it down.

AD: What’s your average day at the festival then? Do the show, flyer for the next one, go home?

CH: I try and book as many gigs in as I can – three to four gigs a day anyway – because it’s one thing to flyer but to hand flyers out to people who’ve seen you is a better thing to do in my opinion.

But, on a typical day, if I just had my show I’d get up, go to the gym, catch a couple of my mates’ shows – I’ll be going to see Phil Ellis’ new show I think. He did the best show of the festival last year for my money.

I’ll try and catch Ramsey when he’s up too; I want to see Gavin Webster as well. I’ll go do that, bit food, do my show, go home for a bit more food, go the shop for some drink because I’m not paying Edinburgh prices, and then just go chill out – watch some wrestling or something.

AD: What are your plans after Edinburgh? Are you going back on tour with Chris?

CH: Yep – I’m back on tour with Chris. The Most Dangerous Man On Saturday Morning Television tour has been extended, so that’s going to cover October and November. September will be club gigs, then December, January, February I’m looking at putting on my Edinburgh show elsewhere.

I want to do my show at The Stand [in Newcastle] in January. We sold out in May and I want to do it again six months down the road when I’ve had a chance to do the show every night when it’s a lot more polished and a lot slicker – not that it was a bad show by any stretch, but I always want to do a better show.

Carl Hutchinson: Here’s Me Show, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, 30 July – 24 August, 8.20pm, £10. Buy tickets.